Premier Smith’s daily brief for September 29

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Good day my fellow residents. As we come to the end of this September, I give God thanks for his continued blessings on our lives. As daunting as this month was for the Virgin Islands, I believe we still have much to be grateful for. Over the past weeks we have gotten aid, support and words of encouragement from leaders around the region and around the world. On behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands, I wish to thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Honourable Bert Koenders for his message of strength, hope and unity for the people of the British Virgin Islands, and his solidarity for the Caribbean islands that have been affected by the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. We look forward to Honourable Koenders support at the international al level. I continue to be impressed by the hard work of the professionals in both our public and private sectors to respond to our present situation and to also keep the Virgin Islands open for business. I had a chance to attend the second industry wide meeting of our financial services industry; those that are presently on island and also those around the world via conference call. It was reassuring to see and hear how the industry is working together, and also how as a jurisdiction, despite the past challenging weeks, the industry has had significant successes with the continuation of business. I am pleased to see that both businesses and government agencies are now operational. As our shops open and services can be provided, it gives all of us some hope, a glimpse of normalcy and energy as we continue on with the task of rebuilding the Virgin Islands. One glimpse of normalcy also comes with now regular service by ferries to our Sister Islands. Immediately following the passage of Hurricane Irma I met with the banks and insurance companies as an area of priority for the continuation of business, but more importantly, to ensure that our everyday residents had access to the funds and services needed to rebuild their lives. Both sectors quickly responded and worked together to open their doors to residents. It has been 23 days since the passage of Hurricane Irma and I continue to urge all residents to file insurance claims for timely processing or contact companies directly to notify them of your intentions. All of our banks have made public, options on loan reprieves for personal, auto, business and home loans. Again, we ask residents seeking to take advantage of these opportunities to speak with their bank and see what opportunities they have for your individual situation to help you begin to rebuild your lives. Next week the banks will be expanding services, as well as their hours. Supermarkets remain stocked, and now with extended hours. Even some of the neighbourhood convenience stores are beginning to reopen. As we receive aid supplies, we will continue to work with community organisations such as Rotary and District Representatives and leaders to ensure those most in need are tended to. For those residents that have been displaced, we continue to provide shelter, food and necessary aid as it comes in from our regional and international supporters. Finally, Virgin Islanders and residents, as we conclude what has indeed been a September that we will never forget, I choose to be optimistic about the future of the Virgin Islands. In this moment we have the opportunity to reshape our Territory. It is an opportunity to reset our compasses and chart a new direction for our future and our islands. As I have said from the onset, this will not be a task for the faint at heart. The road ahead will not be easy, but it is a road we all must travel. On that journey, we have the opportunity to demonstrate our pride and commitment to the Virgin Islands; to show ourselves, and importantly, show our young people what it means to be good citizens of this land. I invite you along this journey as we rebuild, what I am confident will once again, be a prized gem in the crown of our Caribbean islands.

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